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2020 Study: Almost 25% Of Wyoming Workers Employed In Government

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Almost one-quarter of Wyoming’s civilian workers were employed by local, state or federal government entities in 2020, according to a new state report.

Figures from the latest “Just The Facts” publication issued annually by the state Economic Analysis Division of the Department of Administration and Information showed that 24.4% of Wyoming’s workers were employed by the government.

The numbers include those working in government-provided services such as education and public health, but do not include those serving in the military.

Wyoming was in second place for the percentage of its workers employed by the government in 2020, trailing only Alaska at 25.5%.

However, Wenlin Liu, the state’s chief economist, said the figure can be easily skewed by Wyoming’s small population.

“Wyoming is a big state with a small population,” he said. “Any time you’ve got a percentage figure (of the population), it’s going to be higher.”

According to the report’s figures, about 72,419 members of Wyoming’s civilian labor force of 296,801 were employed by the government in 2020. 

The figure was an increase of 3% from 2019, but Liu noted the figures were reported from a period before the state of Wyoming reduced its workforce as a result of budget cuts.

Gov. Mark Gordon cut more than 300 positions from state government in his supplemental budget of 2021 following steep declines in mineral tax income.

Liu said the government employment numbers were high in states with small, widely dispersed populations such as Wyoming and Alaska.

Other states with high percentages of workers employed by the government included West Virginia and Hawaii at 22%, New Mexico at 22.6% and Oklahoma at 21.3%.

Washington, D.C. had the highest percentage of government workers at 32%.

The leisure and hospitality industry was the state’s second-largest employer in 2020 at 11.9%, about 35,319.

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